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Saturday, 9 November 2013

To ask Her Majesty's Government what further steps they will take to release prisoners serving indeterminate sentences for the protection of the public in the light of the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights in James, Wells and Lee v UK.

House of Lords

Tuesday, 23 April 2013.

2.30 pm
Prayers-read by the Lord Bishop of Exeter.

Prisoners: Indeterminate Sentences


2.36 pm
Asked by Lord Lloyd of Berwick
    To ask Her Majesty's Government what further steps they will take to release prisoners serving indeterminate sentences for the protection of the public in the light of the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights in James, Wells and Lee v UK.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My Lords, the European Court's judgment did not find sentences of imprisonment for public protection to be unlawful. Therefore, it remains for the Parole Board to determine whether to direct the release of an IPP prisoner once he has completed his tariff. The National Offender Management Service continues to improve opportunities for IPP prisoners to progress towards release.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: The noble Lord will know that currently more than 3,500 IPP prisoners have passed their tariff date and are waiting to come before the Parole Board. Does he accept that, at the current rate of release on licence, which is running at about 400 a year, it will be nearly nine years before the backlog is cleared? If so, is there not an overwhelming case for the Lord Chancellor to exercise the powers he was given under Section 128 of the 2012 Act to vary the release test to make it easier for these prisoners to satisfy the Parole Board?
Lord McNally: My Lords, the noble and learned Lord's figure on the release of IPP prisoners is roughly correct; I do not think it is until Thursday that we release the full figures, but his estimate is not far out. That compares with 300 releases in 2011, 97 in 2010 and 53 in 2009. I hope he will acknowledge that the abolition of IPPs in LASPO and the greater flexibility that we are now employing in trying to manage the IPP sentences are going in the right direction. I acknowledge that it is a slow process. I will take back to my right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor the noble and learned Lord's point about the power that was given in the LASPO Act, but even if that power were exercised the Parole Board would have to take public safety into account in making its decisions.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, at its conference in 2012 the Prison Governors Association passed a motion overwhelmingly welcoming the ending of what it described as the "iniquitous" IPP system. It also

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said that unless some action is taken either to resource appropriate interventions to reduce perceived risk or to review the Parole Board criteria on what constitutes risk to the public, existing prisoners will face disproportionately long sentences. What action have the Government taken?
Lord McNally: My Lords, I think the key word is "risk". The fact that these prisoners were given IPP sentences indicates that it must have been in the mind of the judge imposing the sentence that they posed a significant risk to society that had to be dealt with before they could be considered for release. That was the intention behind IPPs and that must remain uppermost in our minds when deciding the future of these prisoners. However, we are bringing in accredited courses, which may help to make the point that they are available for these prisoners. Other interventions such as work, education and employment may also provide evidence of reduced risk. NOMS is investing in interventions that have the most beneficial impact in reducing risk, and priority for those programmes is given to IPP prisoners.
Lord Wigley: Does the Minister accept that these prisoners are in a totally invidious position, a Catch-22 position, in that they have to undergo rehabilitative courses in order to be considered for eligibility for parole, yet the vast majority of them have not been offered such courses. Does what he said a moment ago about new courses mean that a substantial number of these prisoners will now be offered them?
Lord McNally: My Lords, within the constraints that we are having to operate in we are trying to introduce new courses. I fully accept that one of the reasons we abolished IPP is that it contained that Catch-22 whereby you had to fulfil certain courses, which may not be available, to qualify for release. I believe that NOMS is doing its best to bring in new systems and that there is greater flexibility in qualifying for release. However, I go back to the point that we are dealing with men who were sent to prison because the judge who sentenced them judged that they posed a serious risk.
The Lord Bishop of Liverpool: My Lords, one of the problems is that when a prisoner is transferred to another prison, they find that there is no accredited course in that prison. Who has the specific responsibility for ensuring that when a prisoner is transferred, there is an accredited course in the prison to which that prisoner is transferred?
Lord McNally: I understand that almost all IPP prisoners now have a managed programme to help them prepare for release. That should be part of sentence planning. But, again, I freely acknowledge that in some cases prisoners have been moved for other reasons and then find that they cannot complete the relevant courses. We are trying as best we can to iron out of the system what the noble Lord referred to as a Catch-22 situation so that prisoners can qualify, but to leave

23 Apr 2013 : Column 1347
with the Parole Board the overriding assessment of whether they are suitable for release or whether a risk remains.
Lord Beecham: My Lords, what is the Government's estimate of the number of prisoners to whom the judgment in the European Court of Human Rights case of James, Wells and Lee v UK applies? Have the Government estimated the cost of providing sufficient resources to comply with the requirement to ensure that prisoners have an opportunity to progress and to be properly assessed for release on licence?
Lord McNally: I am not sure of the number of prisoners to whom the judgment applies, but cases are being taken. It may be of interest to hear that two of the three prisoners involved in that case are now back in prison due to breaching their terms. We are being very careful to make sure that the system is flexible enough and effective enough to allow prisoners to earn-that is the reality of it-their release. However, we have to consider this issue in the context of prisoners who were given this sentence, when it existed, because they posed a threat to the community. It is for the Parole Board to assess whether they are fit for release.

Judicial Review


Asked by Baroness Whitaker
    To ask Her Majesty's Government how their proposed new policy on judicial review ensures the right to a fair hearing in respect of time for individual applicants to prepare and lodge their cases, and the opportunity for an oral permission hearing in all circumstances.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I begin by congratulating the noble Baroness on her impeccable timing because today the Government published their response to the consultation on reforming judicial review. The response sets out changes to the judicial review procedure which the Government intend to take forward. As set out in the response, we believe that these changes to the fee structure, oral renewals and time limits will help to reduce the burden of judicial review while, most importantly, maintaining access to justice, the rule of law, and the right to a fair hearing.
Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, the consultation paper refers to problems with challenges to large planning developments. Why should individual applicants, often unfamiliar with legal processes or perhaps not even very good at reading and writing, like some Gypsies and Travellers, pay the price with so much less time? Secondly, does the Minister agree with Lord Justice Laws when he said,
    "that judges ... change their minds under the influence of oral argument",

23 Apr 2013 : Column 1348

is central to the system, bearing in mind that more than 60% of all hearings are successful? Where is the justice in reducing them?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The noble Baroness is right to raise the important issue of vulnerable groups and people who represent themselves. However, a total of 11,359 applications were lodged in 2011, of which only 144 were successful. I hear what the noble Baroness says, and I am sure she will appreciate that for every application made in written form it is down to the judge to make an adjudication on whether it has merit to go forward. Even if the case is decided in the negative, the individual still has a right to take the matter forward to the Court of Appeal.
Lord Pannick: My Lords, will the Minister draw the attention of the Lord Chancellor to the oral evidence given to your Lordships' Constitution Committee on 13 February by the president of the Supreme Court, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury? I refer in particular to where he said:
"If you have shorter time limits, the risk is that people start proceedings when maybe, if they had more time to think, they would not. There would be many more applications for extensions of time and you might find that the bright idea of cutting time limits turns out to increase the amount of litigation rather than decrease it".
Does the Minister share these concerns? I declare my interest as a practising barrister.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The noble Lord always comes to these matters with great wisdom and experience, which I fully acknowledge. Various groups, including the judiciary, were fully consulted in putting forward the response. The senior judiciary who were consulted included the president of the Queen's Bench Division, the Master of the Rolls, the vice-president of the Court of Appeal, the Civil Division and Lord Justice Richards, the deputy head of Civil Justice. As I said earlier, in the case of such appeals the judge is there to decide if an extension is required to the time period. The noble Lord may have an opinion that this may extend the period, which his quote highlighted, but it is important that the right thing is done. If the judge decides to extend the time, so be it.
Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames: My Lords, I declare a similar interest. The Government propose withdrawing the right to an oral hearing in cases deemed on paper to be totally without merit. Does my noble friend accept that unrepresented applicants often find it very difficult to express their cases adequately on paper, and that it is only at oral permission hearings that judges can sometimes discern from such applicants an arguable case which was not apparent on paper? Will the Government consider limiting the restriction of the right to an oral permission hearing to legally represented applicants?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: I thank my noble friend for raising this concern, but I believe that the risk is somewhat limited. I am sure that many members of the judiciary both in here and those practising outside

23 Apr 2013 : Column 1349
will agree that the test of "totally without merit" is something that is well understood by the profession and is, indeed, applied by judges. This reform applies only to the weakest cases, and as I said in a previous response, if there is still an issue, the right to apply to the Court of Appeal remains for the individual.
Lord Beecham: My Lords, does the Minister agree with the observation of the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, that there is no principle more basic to our system of law than the maintenance of the rule of law itself and the constitutional protection afforded by judicial review? When will the Government publish their response to the consultation on their proposals, and can the Minister indicate whether the view of consultees that has emerged from the consultation on the question of shortening the time limits for procurement and planning cases has been noted?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: First, I agree totally with the noble Lord. The point of judicial review is to hold the Executive and public bodies to account, and that is a principle to which the Government are utterly committed. I have referred already to the issue of time extension. If an extension of time is required, the judge can grant it. It is important to highlight three key points around these changes. The reduction in time limits on planning and procurement, the introduction of fees and the dismissal of decisions that are totally without merit were all referred to the judiciary and, indeed, carried their support. Matters were raised in the consultation which the judiciary felt were not right to take forward; the Government have listened and are not doing so.
Lord Bach: My Lords, linked to the issue of judicial review is the idea of a residence test, which is presently being consulted on. If put into effect, that residence test would mean that someone here lawfully but who had not been here for 12 months or more would not be entitled to legal aid in civil actions, presumably including judicial review, however overwhelming their case might be. Does the Minister agree that such a proposal goes against the traditions and principles of British justice and is more akin to the traditions of more unsavoury judiciaries?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: I do not agree with the noble Lord. It is right to say that our justice system is one of the best in the world, demonstrated even in cases such as that of Abu Qatada. Here is a man who does not believe in our democracy, who does not believe in the freedoms our country stands for, and who takes a noble faith, hijacks it and then presents it in his own erroneous way. Even then, our justice system stands up for him. That is British justice at its best and those rights are protected within judicial review. The noble Lord also noted that these matters are currently out for consultation. The whole issue of legal aid for anyone seeking to apply for it is to protect the vulnerable. That remains the central aim in terms of how the Government will continue to support such cases.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Court: Recall on Licence updated 19 October by member Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister

Offenders who have been recalled to prison will receive written reasons as to why they have been recalled. This is in the form of a ‘recall pack’. If the offender disagrees with the reasons for the recall it is possible to make representations against the recall. It is usually possible to get a lawyer to help with this process.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Ipp 'Forgotten prisoner' to get a case review Hockley man handed eight-month sentence for assault - but is still in jail nine years later

By 29 Sep 2013 08:55 

'Forgotten prisoner' to get a case review


Paul Rowe with his young daughter
Paul Rowe with his young daughter

A Birmingham dad who was handed an eight-month jail sentence but is still languishing in prison almost nine years later is to have his case reviewed – after his plight was revealed by the Sunday Mercury .
The Parole Board has vowed to review the case of Paul Rowe, from Hockley , who was given a controversial indeterminate sentence – known as Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) – at Birmingham Crown Court in 2005.
The 45 year-old former panel beater, who admitted assault and making threats to kill, was told he must serve eight months before he could apply for parole.
But although he has repeatedly appeared before the Parole Board in a bid to be released, he has been turned down each time. He is still in prison, even though IPP sentences have now been scrapped.
Paul Rowe’s story was told in the Sunday Mercury last year and since then a long legal battle has been waged.
Now a review of his case is to be carried out after the High Court ruled against the Parole Board for not properly considering his release.
The ruling has had far-reaching implications, forcing the board to change its policy on the way they consider release for prisoners like Paul.

Speaking from prison via his sister Elizabeth Smith, Paul last week told the Sunday Mercury that he feels ‘trapped in the system’ and is distraught at missing out on laying his father to rest, and seeing his daughter grow up.
He last saw his daughter nearly nine years ago, when she was just five years old.
“I have been given no updates regarding possible parole,” he said. “No-one will tell me anything or answer my questions.
“They just keep saying they don’t know yet, so I have to carry on with my life on hold.
“I feel completely trapped and stuck in the system. I last saw my daughter when she was five, and I have missed her growing up.
“I wasn’t even able to go with my brothers and sisters to lay my father to rest in Jamaica after he died suddenly of cancer.
“It annoys and hurts me to see the constant stream of habitual prisoners who come in and serve their sentence and leave and return again and again.
“I know if I was set free, I would not be coming back.”

Peter Rowe
Peter Rowe

Speaking about her brother’s plight Elizabeth said: “If this was happening anywhere else in the world we would be quick to tell that country about human rights and how primitive they were.
“But it is happening here, under our noses, and it is not talked about. Paul has been let down by the whole system.”
The jailed man’s twin brother Peter, from Edgbaston , said the authorities should take responsibility for mistakes in the case.
“It’s terrible that he has been sat in prison for going on nine years,” he said. “He has completed every single course that has been asked of him and still has no date of when he might be released.
“This has been shabby from beginning until the end. There have been so many flaws in the way they have handled his case. It’s a disgrace. This ruling may have come from a High Court judge, but it does not change his position. He is still in prison with no sign of release.
“Everybody knows that there are serious flaws, but nobody is willing to take any responsibility for what has happened to him.
“He has more than served his time for what he did – but they refuse to let him out.”
Duncan Lewis solicitors, who represented Paul in the hearing, said: “The High Court sitting at Leeds quashed the decision of the Parole Board that the applicant should stay in closed conditions on the basis that they had failed to carry out their separate duty to the applicant of considering release and a transfer to open conditions.
“Unequivocally, the judge ruled that the Parole Board had a statutory duty to consider release, separately to their secondary role to advise the Secretary of State for Justice on the suitability of a transfer to open conditions.”
A spokesman for the Parole Board said: “The Parole Board has not yet received a transcript of the judgment. However, the test required to be applied to cases like Mr Rowe’s has been in force since 2004 and all Parole Board members are trained accordingly.
“This case was decided solely on its merits and in that respect it has not changed the approach the Board should take. The Court appears simply to have decided that the Board had failed to apply the test correctly on this occasion.
“A review of Mr Rowe’s case is currently ongoing (the review period lasts six months, from the compilation of the parole dossier to the issuing of the panel’s decision and reasons) and we have no further comment to make in relation to his case.”
Paul was convicted in 2005, the same year that IPP sentences were introduced.
The Government has since scrapped IPP sentences after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that jailing offenders indefinitely without providing proper access to rehabilitation courses was a breach of human rights.
There are more than 6,000 prisoners in England and Wales serving such sentences. More than 3,500 are over the original tariff specified by the judge, and many of those could now be entitled to compensation.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Are you an Ipp prisoner, you may have a family member or friend who received an IPP or you’re a 'foreign national' prisoners who was transferred back to their country of origin , Maeve McClenaghan the investigative journalist would like to hear from you!

Maeve McClenaghan an investigative journalist whom is  interested in finding out a bit more about what happens to people held on IPP sentences when they complete their tariff.   


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Ipp, “In The Dark.” Imprisonment for public protection damaging for mental health.

 Posted on our Facebook site by Admin Natalie Wallace .

Imprisonment for public protection damaging for mental health   
By Staff writer 31/03/10                                                           
Research by the think tank Sainsbury Centre for mental health has revealed that levels of mental and emotional distress are higher among offenders sentenced to Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) than among either the general prison population or prisoners serving life sentences.
Impact on prisoners and family members alikeThis report entitled ‘In The Dark ‘ shows that IPP prisoners are much more likely to have mental health problems before they are sentenced, and the introduction of this form of custodial sentencing is having a negative impact on the mental health of prisoners and their family members.
Prisoners interviewed for this study showed signs of emotional distressed due to not being giving a release date. The uncertainty of not knowing when they would be freed eroded all sense of hope, which is  also damaged family relationships in many cases, particularly for prisoners with children.
Many prisoners who have been sentenced to IPP said that they had refused mental health care and medication because of the fear that this would prevent them from completing their sentence  and that could mean that they would never be released. Others had said they were in need of help but had not been properly assessed or were in need of medication but had not received it.
The impact of being refused release by the Parole Board was  also very difficult to cope with, especially in cases where prisoners had done everything they could in prison to demonstrate that they were ready to be released this report shows.
 IPP – where criminal justice meets mental health
A study by the organisation Race for Justice , an alliance of charities and voluntary organisations entitled, ‘Less Equal than Others ,’ showed that people from ethnic minorities are treated worse than their white counterparts by the criminal justice system.
This report showed minorities including people from African Caribbean communities are more likely to serve longer prison sentences than their white counterparts for a similar offence, even though lifetime offending rates for black men is significantly lower than for white men.
Observers note that while every person in custody is owed a duty of care by the state, there has been a trend over the past decades, which has seen this protection increasingly withdrawn from black people.
IPP is not a mental health intervention but rather a custodial sentence found in criminal law.   However this  form of custodial sentencing is a clear example of where the criminal justice and mental health systems converge.
Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) was created by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and implemented in April 2005. It is an indeterminate sentence, available when an offender is identified by the courts as ‘dangerous’, but a ‘life’ sentence cannot be justified.
Offenders sentenced to IPP (or Detention for Public Protection for under eighteen-year-olds) are given a minimum term they must serve in prison, known as a ‘tariff’. After the IPP prisoner has served the tariff, the Parole Board consider their release. If it can be shown that they no longer pose a risk and that they can be managed safely outside of prison, they may then be released. Released IPP prisoners are then managed by the Probation Service on a ‘life licence’, subject to recall to prison if they breach any of the terms of their licence. Over stretched, insufficiently resourced
Sainsbury Centre researchers were told by prison mental health staff that they were over stretched and insufficiently resourced to be able to offer any help to IPP prisoners despite the obvious need.
 Research shows that on 19 January 2010 there were 5,828 prisoners serving IPP sentences, and over 2,130 IPP prisoners had served their tariff by November 2009.
By 15 January 2010, 94 IPP prisoners who had served their tariff and had their sentences reviewed by the Parole Board had been released. 23 of those released on licence had been recalled to prison.
An analysis of  government data on the mental health of 2,200 IPP prisoners  along with interviews of 55 IPP prisoners and twenty staff across three prisons show that there are higher levels of mental and emotional distress among this group  than any other category of offender. Findings revealed from  Government data  on this issue also shows the over half of IPP prisoners have problems with ‘emotional wellbeing’ compared with two-fifths of life prisoners and one-third of all other prisoners.
Research in this report also shows that close to one in five IPP prisoners has previously received psychiatric treatment, while one in ten are currently receiving mental health treatment in prison and one in five are on mental health medication.
Although IPP is not a mental health intervention, Ministry of Justice records showed that on 14 January 2010 there were 115 prisoners in secure forensic mental health hospitals under powers of the Mental Health Act 1983, who were also serving indeterminate sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection.
In The Dark  was published in 2008,it is the first publication of its kind to look at the mental health implications of the IPP sentence.

Link to article

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

IPP Prisoners Familys Campaign: Growing frustration among prisoners still serving the discredited Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence is damaging staff morale and potentially threatening security, a survey of prison governors indicates today (19 June 2013).

Growing frustration among prisoners still serving the discredited Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence is damaging staff morale and potentially threatening security, a survey of prison governors indicates today (19 June 2013).

News's and politics' The Economic Voice
The findings, compiled by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Governors’ Association, suggest prisons have insufficient resources to deliver IPP sentences effectively, often leading to resentment between inmates.

Ninety-two per cent of governors surveyed said that IPPs decreased job satisfaction. They said the sentences undermined staff credibility, caused inmates to be treated unfairly, and often meant officers were unable to help prisoners progress.
Almost half of respondents reported that institutions holding IPP prisoners saw higher levels of indiscipline. One explained that some prisoners became anxious and resentful because they could see “no chance of release as they struggled to access appropriate courses”.
A large majority of respondents – 86 per cent – reported that IPP prisoners experienced high levels of anxiety. Several noted that IPP prisoners were at increased risk of self-harm.
The survey results are revealed in a Howard League research briefing paper, The never-ending story: Indeterminate sentencing and the prison regime, which calls on the government to bring in a system to enable post-tariff IPP prisoners to be safely managed into the community.
The paper recommends that all short-tariff IPP prisoners should be provided with a clear strategy to manage their safe release into the community before the end of 2013. This could be achieved by converting all IPP sentences with short minimum tariffs into determinate sentences.
The government scrapped IPPs in 2012, but the abolition was not made retrospectively. There are currently more than 5,800 people in prison serving an IPP, including more than 3,500 ‘post-tariff’ prisoners who have passed the date at which they became eligible for parole.
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights found that the detention of post-tariff IPP prisoners was ‘arbitrary and unlawful’. The court heard that the government had failed to give prisoners access to rehabilitative courses they were required to take before they could be released.
Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The government has recognised that this sentence is flawed but it hasn’t solved the problem of dealing with the thousands of IPP prisoners who remain stranded in the system.
“Indeed, the situation is likely to get even worse as prison budgets shrink and access to courses becomes more limited. Ministers cannot clap their hands over their ears and hope that this problem disappears.
“The courts have been quite clear that the IPP sentence is unjust, and here senior professionals on the front line are saying that it is damaging to their morale and the safety of prisons.”
Changes to the law in 2008 tightened the eligibility criteria for an IPP, giving judges greater discretion as to whether to hand down the sentence.
The survey found that short-tariff prisoners sentenced before 2008 were at greatest risk of self-harm. Governors said these inmates had particular difficulties with anxiety as they saw others who had been convicted of similar crimes after 2008 serve their sentence and move on while they remained inside.
Eoin McLennan-Murray, President of the Prison Governors’ Association, said: “It is absolutely scandalous that low-tariff IPP prisoners sentenced before 2008 remain incarcerated far beyond their tariff date while offenders who were sentenced after 2008 for like-for-like offences have now served their sentences and been released.
“This blatant injustice needs to be addressed and prison governors are calling on the minister to deal with this toxic legacy quickly.
“Governors and their staff should not be expected to try and defend the indefensible; to do so will undermine the relationships relied on to deliver safe, stable prison regimes.”
Three in four respondents said that the extra demands which IPP prisoners placed on prison resources meant that non-IPP prisoners’ had restricted access to rehabilitative courses. A similar number reported that waiting lists for courses were very long in the prison they worked in.
Many governors felt staff were frustrated and demoralised with their work because of IPPs. One in four linked the difficulties staff faced when working with IPP prisoners to increased security threats and indiscipline.
Almost all respondents – 97 per cent – agreed that changes needed to be made to the current system to enable post-tariff IPP prisoners to be managed and released into the community safely.
Numbers of IPP prisoners sentenced and released each year IPP Prison Sentences ‘Damage Staff Morale and Threaten Security’
Numbers of IPP prisoners sentenced and released each year – click to enlarge

Link to article :

Post-prison supervision plans ‘set people up to fail’
Read more:

Thursday, 13 June 2013

IPP, Sign the Petition

The right to petition makes citizens feels involved in decision making and also help in changing certain practices. It is said that several voices are louder than one


HM Government          



IPP Sentence Planning

Responsible department: Ministry of Justice
IPP Petition
WE welcome the abolition of the unjust Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) by the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. . Many IPP Prisoners remain in prison long after the expiry of their tariff, due to insufficient courses to assess their suitability for release. In September 2012, 6,020 prisoners were serving an IPP Sentence. 3,253 of these were held over their tariff date. Since 2005 only 502 serving IPP Prisoners have been released from custody.
We call upon the Government
to ensure proper funding for courses for all IPP Prisoners
to set realistic and appropriate targets for the needs of each prisoner
to make the requirements achievable within the set tariff
to Provide extra assistance to IPP Prisoners who have additional needs such as mental health problems, poor literacy, or welfare issues


Monday, 18 February 2013

IPP Prisoners Familys Campaign: Ipp major rulings this week involving IPP sentence...

IPP Prisoners Familys Campaign: Ipp major rulings this week involving IPP sentence...:   "IPP "Petition.Thank you for your support. ( Files ) · 8 hours ago ... can report that the UK government ha...

Ipp major rulings this week involving IPP sentences. The government lost both cases, Downing Street has not made a statement and needless to say, the tabloid press have not reported the story.

8 hours ago ... can report that the UK government has been heavily criticised by the European Court of Human Rights in two major rulings this week involving IPP sentences. The government lost both cases, Downing Street has not made a statement and needless to say, the tabloid press have not reported the story.
ECtHR) in two major rulings this week involving IPP sentences. The government lost both cases, Downing Street has not made a statement and needless to say, the tabloid press have not reported the story.

This follows the Court of Appeal ruling against the government two weeks ago declaring the blanket disclosure of details in CRB checks to be unlawful.

This week, the government lost its appeal against the court’s ruling in Wells, James & Lee v UK, the case which effectively killed off the appalling Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP). Despite government protestations to the contrary, the government was exposed as being dishonest in not having put sufficient resources in place to enable IPP prisoners to realistically stand any chance of release.

The ECtHR also said that the UK senior judiciary was ‘far too narrow’ in its interpretation of Article 5 of the ECHR which says prisoners cannot be kept in jail indefinitely for purely preventative purposes unless there are mechanisms in place to allow them a realistic chance of release by reducing their risk level.

The second case lost this week by the government is that of Betteridge v UK.

Mr Betteridge had taken all available action through the British courts to speed up his Parole Board (PB) hearing, which was long overdue, only to find that British judges were too weak to award damages for the delay or even to do anything about making the PB hearing available.

Despite admitting and confirming the obvious failings of the government, the judges said they were not prepared to ‘fast-track’ Betteridge over those prisoners who had not bothered to take the issue to the courts and in any case, the government had put measures in place to deal with the problem.

In fact, the government has done no such thing and when the promised PB hearing was cancelled yet again, Betteridge took his case to the ECtHR, the British judges having made it clear that they would not no longer listen to reasoned argument.

This week – and to the government’s great embarrassment – the ECtHR not only awarded monetary damages to Betteridge (something that is very unusual) but also very effectively criticised senior British judges for taking the government’s word that it would solve the problem when in fact, the government had no intention of doing any such thing.

There are currently around 6,000 IPP prisoners in jail, 3,500 of whom are past the date at which release should be considered. The same issue applies to many life-sentenced prisoners of whom there are about 8,000. The Parole Board is hopelessly under-resourced and, for purely political reasons, the Home Office and Ministry of Justice are quite content to leave things that way.

Having IPP prisoners and ‘lifers’ (there is little difference) remain in custody generates thousands of jobs; not just for prison staff but also probation officers, course facilitators and administrative staff.

For the sake of clarity (unlike the Sun newspaper which deliberately misleads people) should point out for those who do not know, that the ECtHR has nothing at all to do with the “EU” or the “Europe” so hated by Tory MPs.

The court is in fact part of the Council of Europe which is a totally separate body ; the council is subscribed to by 47 countries, including Turkey and the Russian Federation and under International Law, rulings from the ECtHR must be adhered to by all subscribed member states.

The implications of the rulings

These two cases are a monumental blow for the government and especially for the now furious Home Secretary, Theresa may and the equally irate, seemingly anti-gay, anti-freedom Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling.  This is why neither are making statements about the judgements.

These latest ECtHR rulings come only a week after the blanket operation of the government’s flagship CRB checking system was found to be unlawful. This time the ruling came not from European judges but by judges in the British Court of Appeal who decided that the ECtHR would also rule against the government.

The Home Secretary, rather predictably, has decided to appeal the ruling to the UK Supreme Court but it is quite likely that the Supreme Court won’t even be prepared to hear the case, let alone find in the government’s favour.

(Read more in our Members Forum. Click Here)

The important connection between the CRB case and the two IPP cases above is that all three cases criticise the methodology use by the British government when formulating public protection policies, especially those supposedly designed to protect children.

For the last 30 years, successive administrations have used anecdotal or ‘hearsay’ evidence and opinion to formulate policies such as the CRB system, the Sex Offenders Register, the various sexual and other types of Prevention Orders as well as IPP sentences.

Not one of these policies, which affect many hundreds of thousands of people in different ways, has been based on independent research or factual reference. Instead, they rely on the ‘opinions’ and ‘professional judgement’ of so-called ‘professionals’, all of whom directly benefit from having such policies in place.

Furthermore, most UK protection policies were imported from the United States and have been further developed to satisfy the demands of the child protection industry and the press, both of which profit from generating public fear, genuine or not.

The Appeal Court and the ECtHR have now both said – and for the first time – that the process by which these policies are made should rely on fact and real independent research; not on a “what if” basis or on a desire to generate popular support from the public or lobby groups and not on research which simply tells ministers what they want to hear.

The rulings therefore are highly significant. They now open the door for the State to be challenged when it locks people up without giving them any real chance of release.

However, the rulings also show that the British courts have been wrong in interpreting Article 5 (which determines whether or not detention is lawful) far too narrowly.

Perhaps most important of all though, the rulings completely undermine the basis on which successive British governments have formulated and applied ‘public protection’ policies that when exposed, seem to be designed solely to give the police whatever they want and to satisfy the tabloids and charities.  would therefore hope – and suggest – that having now been severely battered by judges who are not afraid of British politicians, ministers will stop making excuses and do something about the 6,500 IPP prisoners still in jail and who have been left completely unaffected by the repeal of the disastrous IPP sentence; a repeal that followed only after the government’s own embarrassment.

We also suggest that in future, ‘knee jerk’ legislation is avoided at all costs. The IPP was such a piece of legislation and it has left the government in a deep and  potentially very expensive hole, now with no chance of escape.

We would also hope that British judges will realise that they are not duty bound to interpret the ‘Will of Parliament’ regarding law and order in a manner that is only advantageous to ministers or, to put it another way, their Lordships should accept that contrary to the belief of polite society, ministers lie. And they lie a lot.

Judges should never take the word of any government minister because British governments always lie. They have always lied and probably always will.

If British governments had to be honest, the government would fall apart because politicians would be truly accountable. Policemen would once again have to serve the public instead of the public bowing down to them, prisoners would get real help to reform and money-grabbing children’s charities would be put out of business – after having been convicted for fraud on a grand scale.

Perhaps it is too much to hope for but Cameron and his cronies should take note of these judgements. Failure to do so will only result in more embarrassment, more unjust imprisonment and more government by ‘tabloid and charity’.

It is regrettably a fact that the UK locks up more people than any other country in Europe. It also has more prisoners sentenced to some kind of life imprisonment than all the other EU states put together. It is a country whose so-called ‘Justice’ is based on revenge, not fairness. It punishes the weak whilst hiding and protecting the strong.

Every society gets what it deserves and British society is no exception. Ignorance, selfishness and greed have produced the incompetent and unfair British Criminal Justice System that exists today and those who benefit financially and politically from it don’t want it to change.

However, believes that after these latest rulings, it may have to change after all – whether those powerful beneficiaries want it to or not.

 3 Responses to Government loses more court battles over IPP & CRB checks
martina H
February 16, 2013 at 5:16 pm
It’s about time some great news has been set for the IPP Prisoners to give them hope. They have been for far too long the forgotten prisoners, with a cobweb of excuses as to why they remain in prison many years after their tariff. Thank God Helen
February 16, 2013 at 4:42 pm
Thank you, Raymond. Your article is absolutely brilliant. We have been thinking what you have dared to say for years. Ever since our son was given an 18 months’ IPP tariff, and is still languishing in prison nearly 6 years later. His punishment was the 18 months. The rest has been solely due to the appalling mis-management of his case, by jumped-up officials and so called ‘experts’, all justifying their jobs on the back of the Kafke-esque IPP sentence. I have a file full of letters to the M o J, and no-one has actually ever looked at our son’s case with compassion. It has been all about ‘we have to protect the public’. So, why only an 18 months’ tariff in the first place? He is not dangerous, and never was. Thank you again, Raymond.
February 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm
Thank God for the European Court. But why is it always necessary for the European Court to tell the government when it is wrong?
Just like Blair, Cameron is only interested in staying popular with his supporters, regardless of the misery heaped on others who cannot defend themselves.